Well-known Greek artist Fikos has created a new piece of art on the theme of the Genocide of Greek subjects by Ottoman forces from the years just before the First World War and 1922.
As he explains in his own words, as posted on a social media site:
“Every one knows about the Holocaust of the Jews, less know about the Genocide of the Armenians, and even fewer about the Genocide of the Greeks of Minor Asia and the Pontic Greeks.
Today, 14th of September 2019, we commemorate the Genocide of the Greeks of Asia Minor -an event that is closely related to the Genocide of the Pontic Greeks as well-, when the Ottoman empire, the Young Turks and Kemal Ataturk killed around 1 million of Greeks, some directly slaughtered with unbelievable violence, and others sent to the “White Death”, long journeys with no food and water, to one destination, death by exhaustion. It was the first time in human history that a complete annihilation of a whole ethnicity was planned. The ones that managed to escape spread throughout mainly in Greece and USSR.
You know, 100 years is not so far. People who know the stories from their parents and relatives are still alive.
Books, not so old, full of testimonies and stories from the people who faced the extinction are all over the Greek bookstores.
We have dozens of photos depicting the events, even evidences like Turkey’s own census in 1923, where, the 500.000 Greeks of Pontos, who existed in the previous census, are suddenly missing. Nevertheless, to this day, 100 years later, the Turkish government denies to admit the Genocide, and has convicted not even one person for the crimes. It is so simple for them.
This is how they ended the almost 3000 years old Greek presence in the Minor Asia and the former Greek Euxine (Hospitable) Sea, which is known today as the Black Sea; the place where globally known Greek myths were born, such as Prometheus, Amazons, Argonauts etc.
I made this artwork not as another painting, but as a memorial.
Because, as they say, a nation that forgets its past, is condemned to repeat it.”
Who is Fikos
Coming from Greece, Fikos is an artist who’s working predominantly in painting and murals, and who understands the significance of the past. In areas that exist for as long as humanity (art being one of them), that significance is even greater. However, his vision of Greek contemporary painting being popular and recognized internationally is based on its evolution into a modern universal event rather than becoming a celebration of nostalgic accomplishments of the past.
At the age of 13, he began studying Byzantine painting under watchful eyes of George Kordis, who is undoubtedly one of the most important representatives of the revival of the icon. The two of them also collaborated for a number of years, creating murals in Orthodox churches. During all that time, the young artist was learning from his teacher but was also developing his own unique style. With previous experience in graffiti, his transfer from ‘ordinary’ street art to creating large-scale murals came as a natural progression. Many public spaces have since been blessed with his works, whose value is magnificent, as it’s the first time that a modern movement such as creating murals have met something like the ancient and monumental technique. He still paints icons as well, and speaking of technique, they are created by using egg tempera on handmade Japanese paper which is glued onto wood. The murals are executed in acrylics, and their themes emanate from the ancient Greek mythology and Orthodox Christian tradition, with the accent being on the later. They are always related to the places where they are presented, rising above the level of the usual street art, and becoming something more. His work on the streets can be described as Muralism.
The term Contemporary Byzantine Painting was conceived by the artist, with its meaning being embodied in the painting that originates in the old tradition and in combination with modern painting movements offers a new style in our time. Photios Kontoglou was responsible for the renaissance of this particular style, being the first to present a complete and mature proposal for the non-religious version of this kind of work, but also because he practically proved the breadth of the spectrum of possibilities of this form of work in regard to the stylistic variety that it can provide. Today, in the field of iconography, the practice of copying old prototypes is stronger than ever. However, there are a few individuals, Fikos among them, who are creating works based on the Byzantine tradition with a spirit of renewal. As the artist states: “…in a world where art is suffering from the sickness or “originalism” and of “self-expression”, Byzantine painting may constitute an exceptionally functional universal painting language, able to accept painting idioms and dialects, and consequently offering freedom of expression to the artist and understandability to the viewers.”